"We want to try to make the impossible possible," sports director fredi bobic told the dpa news agency ahead of schwaben's seemingly hopeless eighth-final rematch with lazio rom in the europa league. "You can give presents at easter and christmas", bobic said and coach bruno labbadia emphasized: "we are not going on a coffee trip here"."
Even the professionals do not think about giving up despite the heavy 0:2 mortgage from the home game. "Anything can happen," said captain serdar tasci before the ghost match at the stadio olimpico on thursday. "We have worked hard for the europe league. We're not going to let that go so easily."His center-back colleague georg niedermeier assured: "we're not going to let this one go. If we make it 1:0 early, a lot is possible."Goalkeeper sven ulreich clung to the platitude: "anything can happen in soccer."
But no one at vfb has any illusions, especially since the weak performances and poor results over the past few weeks give no cause for optimism. In addition, the record of the bundesliga team in meetings in italy so far: zero victories out of the tournament are offset by two draws and three defeats. "It's going to be tough, but we still want to step on the gas," promised torjager vedad ibisevic.
Bobic conceded that advancing will probably remain wishful thinking: "the chances are minimal."The manager once contributed as a striker to one of those rare fubball miracles. In september 1998, vfb won the UEFA cup 3-0 after a 3-1 home defeat by feyenoord rotterdam. Bobic scored the decisive third goal back then. "This does nothing for the current game. The games against rotterdam were still in the stone age of fubball," he said.
This time even a 2:0 is enough, then a verlangerung and possibly a elfmeterschieben followed. With a 3-0 or 3-1 win stuttgart sensationally in the quarter finals. "A win against rome is not impossible," said midfielder william kvist, who is threatened with retirement due to a fub injury, and pointed out a possible positive side effect. "If we play well there, maybe that will help us in the bundesliga as well."In addition to kvist, the use of arthur boka is also questionable due to a hemorrhage below the hoof.
One advantage for vfb could be that it has virtually nothing to lose and can therefore act in a relaxed manner. "The pressure is no longer necessarily rough," stated bobic. Tasci promised: "we will try to play liberated. We have nothing to lose in rome."Moreover, the swabians usually play better away from home at the moment. The fans' shrill whistles at home have been getting to even the seasoned pros lately. Tamas hajnal in particular came in for criticism from vfb fans, something labbadia has no understanding for: "hajnal was a guarantee that we didn't get relegated in 2011. He is an impeccable professional. He didn't deserve that."
The vfb players will definitely be spared boos this time: UEFA has barred the spectators at two european league home games of the romanians because of racist and right-wing extremist riots by lazio supporters. Bobic regrets that no vfb fans are allowed: "that's a pity. I've never played in a ghost game myself, and I've never been to one."